Wherever and whenever you stop digging
221. Or forget belief: imagine feeling, even if for a moment, that it were true.
235. … Perhaps it would help to be told that there is no bottom, save, as they say, wherever and whenever you stop digging. You have to stand there, spade in hand, cold whiskey sweat beaded on your brow, eyes misshapen and wild, some sorry-ass gravedigger grown bone-tired of the trade. You have to stand there in the dirty rut you dug, alone in the darkness, in all its pulsing quiet, surrounded by the scandal of corpses.“
— Maggie Nelson, Bluets
I am trying so hard to be grateful for this jewel of a life and I am, I
am, I am. In a few weeks I fly to New Jersey to see my dearest friend in
all the world and we will go to NYC and stay in a hotel and drink
cocktails named for books, and I will be grateful and happy and
everything will be perfect, even if only for three days. But that is not
the problem. The problem is that this used to be enough to make me
happy, to make me grateful–this little yellow apartment with its
rooftop deck and quirky ceilings and this job that (once upon a time)
was enough to pay the bills and give me time for writing and now pays
the bills and then some but doesn’t give much time for writing anymore,
and now it is easier to wake up and think why don’t you just go back to bed, there’s not much else to do and
sometimes I do just that, sometimes I just close my eyes and sleep
again and it is great, it is everything I want at that moment in time.
And then there are moments when it all comes off, like a skin shucked onto the ground, and I blink and I find myself saying, faintly, maybe there’s a story in there, somewhere. And for a moment I feel like my old self, like that’s a possibility, somehow. Something I could get back to, something I haven’t forgotten.
I have never in all my life before minded time spent by myself, and for the past few months I have minded it so much I’ve felt myself becoming an entirely different person. This sadness that pulses so deep it feels alive.
A friend of mine is both convinced of and perplexed by what he sees as the “confessional” age of the times. People have this great need to purge everything, he says. Publicly. It’s all about the reveal, how raw you are, how bare you can make yourself in front of others.
I have been feeling, myself, as though it’s not so much a revealing as a confession. Confessing myself to the world, or wanting to, and expecting–what? I don’t know.
This too shall pass, they all say. But when? How do I get there? How do you pull yourself back out of the hole when you stop digging, grind your muscles over the great walls of dirt and sprawl once more beneath the stars?
One handful at a time, I suppose. One breath, and then another.